La Salette – Still Relevant

Fr. Jean Stern, M.S., author
and long-time La Salette
Archivist in our Rome
General House, a convert
from Judaism who lost his
family in a World War II
concentration camp.

My childhood was spent in an environment which allowed me to experience a world where God was neither mocked nor worshiped, but was, for all practical purposes, ignored and forgotten. Then I looked into the face of war and was a first-hand witness to what becomes of this so-called adult world when it is left to its own wisdom.

The apparition of La Salette with its distinctive signs — the words, the tears of the Virgin, etc. — seemed to me to be the echo or the image of heavenly realities. It helped me to realize that God does not remain indifferent to the tragedies brought about by humanity's proclaimed self-sufficiency.


La Salette can help us grasp the Word of God

La Salette did not reveal the heart of God to me, or that his Son had wept on Jerusalem. The Gospel had already told me this. But La Salette helped me to grasp the living, throbbing Word of God. This is why, in spite of a psychological and cultural background almost diametrically opposed to that of a 19th century alpine village, I have no difficulty recognizing the present day relevancy of La Salette.

The true paths leading to the mystery of La Salette are many. Neither one single idea nor even a series of ideas will ever adequately express the contents of an experience that is vital, concrete. And La Salette belongs to the order of the concrete. For some, it will mean primarily reconciliation; for others, the missionary calling, or the victimary spirit and reparation; for some others it will mean the tender solicitude of our Father who is in heaven. All these various aspects complete one another and need not be opposed one to the other...

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La Salette and Ecology

Untitled-1The charism of the La Salette Missionaries is reconciliation. Since the foundation of the La Salette Missionaries in 1852 by Philibert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, our main purpose has been to preach the word of God, to exercise the Ministry of Reconciliation, to celebrate the Eucharist, and to heal the hurts and deepen awareness of God's ongoing call to repentance. We were asked by Mary to “make her message known”, that is, the message of her Son, Jesus.

We have historically emphasized three aspects of reconciliation in our ministry: reconciliation with God, with others and with self. There is a growing need to look at a particular aspect of “reconciliation with others”, given the words of our Church leaders and the dire situation of God’s good creation. In justice we need to work for our reconciliation with our fragile home, the Earth.


Catholics and Ecology

Like Mary at La Salette, Pope John Paul II, in his World Day of Peace Message on December 8, 1989 spoke powerful words of concern and alarm:

“When the ecological crisis is set within the broader context of the search for peace within society, we can understand better the importance of giving attention to what the Earth and its atmosphere are telling us: namely, that there is an order in the universe which must be respected, and that the human person, endowed with the capability of choosing freely, has a grave responsibility to preserve this order for the well-being of future generations… The ecological crisis is a moral issue.”

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Maximin and Melanie – One of Us

There is much to learn, I believe, from the behavior of Our Lady of La Salette toward Maximin and Melanie.

Untitled-1First, she chose the humble, ignorant and poor. There is nothing much to envy in them. Second, they were not saints in the sense of official recognition as such by the Church. Nor will they probably ever be. And third, their lives after the apparition and after the local Bishop had assumed responsibility for spreading the news of La Salette, were still very ordinary.

Maximin and Melanie – one of us

True, they were very often recognized as celebrities of a sort, but they manifested all the shortcomings of ordinary human beings. But it would seem that Our Lady wanted to hold them up to the world as people able to serve God and the Church even though their lives gave no evidence of outstanding holiness.

It is clear that Our Lady showed them special affection and consideration throughout the apparition. The first sign of this consideration is her calling them to this special mission to the whole world. La Salette is the strong affirmation given to the people of God of the importance of their role as individuals.

Read more: Maximin and Melanie – One of Us

Somebody’s Knocking at Your Door

William Holman Hunt’s
1853 painting, “The Light
of the World.” Notice there
is no door knob on the
outside. we have to let Jesus in.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). Jesus is forever knocking at our door – perhaps even today, at this very moment.

God created everything in harmony. There is a cycle of life all around us – sunrise and sunset, light and darkness, night and day, life and death. There is an invisible hand that holds the sun, the moon, and the stars and everything else in their proper place.

What we are describing is a precious web of relationships and connectedness – all in glorious harmony. We describe all this as “a reconciled life”. The heart of us human beings, the heart of all creation, beats as one with the heart of God.

At times we may even dream about God. But then it’s time to wake up – that is, if we want to have our dreams come true. Here is a story that can wake us up and stir our hearts!

A Stirring Story

It happened on an ordinary Saturday, September 19, 1846, in the small village of La Salette, near the town of Corps and near Grenoble. In this poor area in southeastern France, to quite two ordinary, uneducated children – Maximin Giraud, 11 years of age, and Melanie Calvat, just 14 – were hired on that day to look after the cattle of their employer. They leisurely herded the cows up the mountainside, expecting nothing but a pleasant lunch with a requisite nap to follow.

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Lent, La Salette and the Centrality of Christ

Untitled-1Some short phrases in the Bible have vastly more importance than the space they occupy. In the Ash Wednesday selection from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them." Even praying, and giving and fasting can be done with a dash of élan.

Fr. Marie Joseph Lagrange (1855-1938), the great biblical scholar, said that, "the synagogue was the stage where reputations for sanctity were made." In this passage Jesus prefaces his remarks with the admonition not to seek the applause and approval of people when one gives alms, prays or begins fasting.

There is a very short preface to what we are about to read. It is a sharp warning about the way of practicing religion. It comes early in the gospel of Matthew and it is included prominently in the Sermon on the Mount. The Christian must "beware of practicing piety before others in order to be seen by them." The consequence of this kind of behavior is radical in the extreme: "for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven."

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Born to Reconcile:


The Missionary Vocation of the Philippines

Fr. Raymond Boulet, M.S.

Editor: This article (edited because of length) was originally written in 1966, just after the closing of Vatican II, at the time we as La Salettes were forced to leave Burma (presently Myanmar), well in advance of our return as La Salettes to Myanmar and our recent ordinations there. It was also in advance of our Philippine Province’s outreach and entry into India in the early 1980’s and India becoming a province in 2007. This was also well before the La Salette vocation explosion in both Angola and Madagascar and the rise in the world’s focus of attention on China as a world-class power.

From the Celebes Sea of southern Malaysia to the Himalayas of Southeast Asia, missionaries belonging to an identical era and, very often, hailing from the same countries, applied a similar pastoral, taught more or less the same catechism, preached the same Gospel. Now, in 1966, we observe the results: one Asiatic country, only one, is predominantly Christian. We refer, of course, to the tiny, valiant Republic of the Philippines. Among the Orient's 32 million Christians, at least 20 million are Filipinos. Pope Paul VI did not hesitate to qualify this turn of events as a “miracle”. Speaking to the Bishops of the Philippines, the Holy Father did not attempt to hide his enthusiasm:

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The Importance of Marian Devotion

Untitled-1As we are reminded during the Advent and Christmas seasons, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” 

Simply put, without Jesus we have no New Testament, no Christian Church, no Christian faith. Understanding this, then what is the proper place of Marian devotion and piety in the Church? Why is it important and how can it strengthen our faith? 

Pope John Paul II, in the introduction to the Vatican’s 2001 Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: Principles and Guidelines, explains that “Popular piety is an expression of faith which avails of certain cultural elements proper to a specific environment… Genuine forms of popular piety, expressed in a multitude of different ways, derives from the faith and, therefore, must be valued and promoted. Such authentic expressions of popular piety… predispose the people for the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries.” Indeed, popular piety is seen as “a true treasure of the People of God” (Directory, #59).

The Directory, in chapter five, discusses extensively “the veneration of the Holy Mother of God, which occupies a singular position both in the Liturgy and popular devotion”. Let us take a brief glance at the history of Marian devotion over the centuries in order to better understand what Pope John Paul II has stated.

The Roots of Marian Devotion

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Zacchaeus, Reconciliation and La Salette

Christ saw Zacchaeus in a tree

You remember him – his name was Zacchaeus, the short man who climbed the tree in order to see Jesus (see Luke 19:1-9)… In the time of Christ, tax collectors were a special breed of sinner. They were across-the-board violators of God's law and public traitors who licked the boot of the local Romans who had all the power.

Now, Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in his area. The gospel's choice of sinner is intended to show the saving force of Christ's personality. It is also meant to make manifest the power of his mercy. We don't often associate mercy with power, but in cases like this one Christ's mercy is powerful indeed. It was strong enough to have Zacchaeus come down from his tree to a new life. His story does not define conversion but shows us what it looks like in real life.

A Gift That Changed His Life

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A Strong Future For La Salettes

Fr. Silvano Marisa, M.S. Superior
General of the La Salette Missionaries

Our common baptism is a call to intimacy with the Lord. It is a vocation which is a lifelong call given to all. In the past, speaking about vocations used to center on priest and religious. Now we more correctly speak about a vocation or call to the church for every baptized member of the church.

At La Salette Mary gave us an invitation to “make her message known to all her people.” She echoed the words of her Son: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).

A Marian Call to Unity and Reconciliation

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A New Year – A New Beginning

Untitled-1With the beginning of this New Year of Our Lord, most of us want to look good. Of course, this isn't the world's loftiest motivation but it isn't totally bad either. If is better than not caring at all and better than nothing. It's a beginning. It's a start and for many of us at this time of year, a start is already an achievement.

Go ahead and accuse me of being prejudiced, biased, partial and all that, but a good step toward looking good in sober fashion would be to read the message Our Lady gave at La Salette, think about it, then sit yourself down and scribble down some serious New Year's resolutions. If you follow even one of them, you will look very, very good – guaranteed!

Six Days for Working

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